I was thrilled when Lori Lewis recently approached me about blogging with Everyday Opera. Like many opera composers and performers, I’m constantly thinking about ways to invigorate the operatic form and make it accessible to a wider audience, especially in light of the fact that funding is shrinking, and audiences are aging.
We need new ways of approaching opera, new ways of working with one another, new ways of marketing, and new models of fundraising in order to keep this beloved form alive. If we don’t find these new ways, I believe the art form will die.
At the same time, I see an opportunity – not only in the opera community – but in the larger arts community - to discover new art forms and modes of expression that will, in turn, bring more opportunity and fulfillment to our work as artists.
I’m the Artistic Director of the Fisher Ensemble, a collective of vocalists, movers, actors, and musicians. Led by myself, the group weaves ritual and myth to bridge ancient and modern forms. We are Seattle-based, although we perform elsewhere, including New York. Our current production Kocho, will be produced by Beth Morrison at the Galapagos Art Space on September 23 in Brooklyn.
In writing, developing, and presenting Kocho (as well as our other operas), my ensemble takes a very collaborative approach. As the lead generator of the piece, I see my role as not only the music composer, but the creator of a blueprint that guides a process of collaboration between the choreographer (Christy Fisher), director (Benjamin Mosse), costume designer (Zane Philstrom), filmmaker (Ryan K Adams) as well as the 5 vocalists and an instrumental ensemble consisting of gongs and percussion (Dean Moore), 6 string fretted acoustic bass (Greg Bagley), Indian harmonium (myself), and flute (Margaret Lancaster).
In the next few weeks, I’ll chronicle the creation of Kocho and how I use the concept of “creative collaboration” to develop a piece whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I’ll explore ways in which we have addressed the obstacles facing our arts community (money, marketing, and their intersection with art) in ways that succeed, and also in ways that don’t.
I find that artists often fall short of their goals mainly because they haven’t been open to how other people think, feel, or respond to what they are doing. We are hypersensitive souls, after all. In writing this blog, I welcome your feedback and will include it in my blog when applicable. You can reach me at fisherensemble at gmail.com, or by tweeting me @fisherensemble. I look forward to getting to know this new audience.